John Mott

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John Raleigh Mott
Mott circa 1946
Born(1865-05-25)May 25, 1865
DiedJanuary 31, 1955(1955-01-31) (aged 89)
Alma materUpper Iowa University[1]
Cornell University (B.A.)
Organization(s)YMCA, World Student Christian Federation
SpouseLeila Ada White (m. 1891)
Parent(s)John Mott, Sr.
Elmira (Dodge) Mott
AwardsNobel Peace Prize (1946)
The United States - Mexico Commission. Standing from left to right are: Stephen Bonsal, Attache of the State Department and Advisor to the American Commission; American Secretary of State Robert Lansing; Eliseo Arredondo, the Mexican ambassador designate, and L.S. Rowe, the Secretary to the American Commission. Sitting from left to right are John Raleigh Mott of New York City; Judge George Gray of Wilmington, Delaware; Secretary of the Interior Franklin Knight Lane; Luis Cabrera Lobato, chairman of the Mexican delegation and Secretary of the Treasury of Mexico, Alberto J. Pani, President of the National Railways of Mexico; and Ignacio Bonillas, Minister of Communications and Public Works... The image was taken at the Biltmore Hotel in New York City on September 9, 1916.

John Raleigh Mott (May 25, 1865 – January 31, 1955) was an evangelist and long-serving leader of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF). He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for his work in establishing and strengthening international Protestant Christian student organizations that worked to promote peace. He shared the prize with Emily Balch. From 1895 until 1920 Mott was the General Secretary of the WSCF. Intimately involved in the formation of the World Council of Churches in 1948, that body elected him as a lifelong honorary President. He helped found the World Student Christian Federation in 1895, the 1910 World Missionary Conference and the World Council of Churches in 1948. His best-known book, The Evangelization of the World in this Generation, became a missionary slogan in the early 20th century.[2]


Mott was born in Livingston Manor, New York, Sullivan County, New York on May 25, 1865, and his family moved to Postville, Iowa, in September of the same year. He attended Upper Iowa University, where he studied history and was an award-winning student debater. He transferred to Cornell University, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1888. He was influenced by Arthur Tappan Pierson one of the forces behind the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, which was founded in 1886.

In 1910, Mott, an American Methodist layperson, presided at the 1910 World Missionary Conference, which was an important milestone in the modern Protestant missions movement and some say the modern ecumenical movement.

Mott and a colleague were offered free passage on the Titanic in 1912 by a White Star Line official who was interested in their work, but they declined and took the more humble liner the SS Lapland. According to a biography by C. Howard Hopkins, in New York City the two men heard what happened to the Titanic, looked at each other and remarked that, "The Good Lord must have more work for us to do."[3]

After touring Europe and promoting ecumenism, Mott traveled to Asia where, from October 1912 to May 1913, he held a series of 18 regional and national conferences, including in Ceylon, India, Burma, Malaya, China, Korea and Japan.[4]

He also worked with Robert Hallowell Gardiner III to maintain relations with the Russian Orthodox Church and Archbishop Tikhon after the Russian Revolution.

From 1920 until 1928, Mott served as the WSCF Chairperson. For his labors in both missions and ecumenism, as well as for peace, some historians consider him to be "the most widely traveled and universally trusted Christian leader of his time".[5]

Personal life and legacy[edit]

Mott married twice. His first wife was a teacher, Leila Ada White. They married in 1891 and had two sons and two daughters, including Irene Mott Bose, a social worker in India, and wife of Indian Supreme Court justice Vivian Bose; John Livingstone Mott, who received the Kaisar-i‐Hind silver medal in 1931, for his work with the YMCA in India;[6] and Frederick Dodge Mott, who worked in healthcare planning in Canada, and was Canada's representative to the World Health Organization.[7]

After Leila Mott died in 1952, Mott remarried in 1953, to Agnes Peter, a descendant of Martha Custis Washington.[8] He died in 1955, in Orlando, Florida, aged 89 years. The papers of John R. Mott are held at the Yale Divinity School Library.[9]


In 2022, John Raleigh Mott was officially added to the Episcopal Church liturgical calendar with a feast day on 3 October.[10]

The high school of the Postville Community School District in Postville, Iowa is named after him.[11]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jain, Chelsi. "Upper Iowa University". John R. Mott Biographical.
  2. ^ Cracknell & White, 233
  3. ^ Greg Daugherty (March 2012). "Seven Famous People Who Missed the Titanic". Smithsonian Magazine.
  4. ^ A History of the Ecumenical Movement 1517-1848, 2d edition, p. 364
  5. ^ Cracknell & White, 243
  6. ^ "John Mott, Headed International Unit". The New York Times. 1973-07-21. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-11-26.
  7. ^ Houston, C. Stuart. "Frederick Dodge Mott". The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2021-11-26.
  8. ^ "Miss Agnes Peter, 73, marries Dr. John R Mott, 88". The Ithaca Journal. 1953-07-29. p. 4. Retrieved 2021-11-26 – via
  9. ^ Yale University Divinity School Library.
  10. ^ "General Convention Virtual Binder". Retrieved 2022-07-22.
  11. ^ "High School". Postville Community School District. 2001-03-03. Archived from the original on 2001-03-03. Retrieved 2020-04-07. - The link for Mott goes to this page

Further reading[edit]

  • Cracknell, Kenneth and Susan J. White. An Introduction to World Methodism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-521-81849-4.
  • Fisher, Galen Merriam. John R. Mott: Architect of Cooperation and Unity. New York: Association Press, 1953.
  • Hopkins, Charles Howard. John R. Mott, 1865–1955. Eerdmans, 1979. ISBN 0-8028-3525-2.
  • Hopkins, C. Howard. History of the Y.M.C.A. in North America (1951)
  • Mackie, Robert C. Layman Extraordinary: John R. Mott, 1865–1955. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1965.
  • Mathews, Basil Joseph. John R. Mott: World Citizen. New York, Harper, 1934.

Primary sources[edit]

  • Mott, John Raleigh. The Future Leadership of the Church (1909) online.
  • Mott, John Raleigh. The Evangelization of the World in This Generation. Arno, 1972. ISBN 0-405-04078-4.
  • Mott, John R. Five decades and a forward view (1939), autobiography

External links[edit]